By Kenneth Li
Viacom Inc. has requested that video Web site YouTube take down some
Viacom videos, including shows by comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen
Colbert, as part of ongoing discussions on how the two companies can
work together, a Viacom source said on Monday.
It is not known which clips YouTube was asked to remove. But on
Monday, thousands of Viacom clips of varying lengths of up to about 10
minutes each remained available on the top video-sharing service.
The source said Viacom, owner of the Comedy Central cable network, had
sent a letter last Friday requesting that some of its shows -- including
the popular "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," "The Colbert Report" and
those from MTV Networks and BET -- be purged from the site.
Viacom and YouTube declined to comment on the matter.
YouTube user Jeff Reifman, founder of Web site NewsCloud and a former
Microsoft Corp. employee, said YouTube informed him in two letters of
the removal of Comedy Central clips he had uploaded.
YouTube received "a third-party notification by Comedy Central" of
copyright infringement, according to the letters, he said.
Viacom's demand comes after Google Inc. agreed this month to buy
YouTube for $1.65 billion, which analysts said would intensify a push
by media companies to seek a way to seek reimbursement for pirated
clips or seek legal recourse.
Most top music companies and several U.S. TV networks including NBC
Universal and CBS Corp. have inked advertising deals with YouTube.
News Corp.'s social network site, MySpace, said on Monday it had
licensed a new technology from Gracenote to block the uploading of
copyrighted music files.
Unlike MySpace, YouTube's policy is to leave it up to users to
determine what to upload, but it will take down videos at the program
owner's request. Its user agreement asks users to seek permission from
copyright owners before uploading clips.
YouTube, which carries tens of millions of clips, also restricts
regular user accounts from uploading more than 100 megabytes of video
or clips longer than 10 minutes.
Professional producers, musicians and "amateur filmmakers" who register
with YouTube are permitted to upload longer video clips, according to
its Web site.
Internet observers including Reifman noted the irony of pulling down
clips from Stewart and Colbert. Bloggers note that Colbert joked that
he deserved $700 million of the $1.65 billion in stock Google plans to
pay for YouTube.
The video clip of that particular Colbert episode had been removed by
the user, according to YouTube's site.
Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.
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